Simmons, Earl 1970-
SIMMONS, Earl 1970-
PERSONAL: Born December 18, 1970, in Baltimore, MD; married; wife's name, Tashera; children: two.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—Bloodline Records, c/o Def Jam Records, 160 Varick St., 12th Fl., New York, NY 10003.
CAREER: Rap artist and actor. Founder of Bloodline Records. Albums include It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, 1998; Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, 1999; And Then There Was X, 1999; (with others) I Am, 1999; The Great Depression, 2001; It's Not a Game, 2003. Recorded soundtracks for animated television series South Park, and for films, including Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 the Grave. Actor in films, including Belly, 1998; Romeo Must Die, 2000; Exit Wounds, 2001; Cradle 2 the Grave, 2003; Never Die Alone, 2004.
AWARDS, HONORS: Unsigned Hype Award, Source, 1991; American Music Award, Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist, 2000.
(With Smokey D. Fontaine) E.A.R.L.: Ever AlwaysReal Life: The Autobiography of DMX, HarperEntertainment (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Rap artist Earl Simmons, known to his fans as DMX, after the sound machine, is the author of E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX. In addition to performing, Simmons also manages the label Bloodline Records, which he established through Def Jam Records and through which he has signed such artists as Big Stan, Bazaar Royale, and Kashmir. Simmons' book was written with Smokey D. Fontaine, former editor of the hip-hop magazine Source, and is based on four years of interviews.
In E.A.R.L. Simmons recalls his difficult childhood. Born in Baltimore, he and his five sisters were abandoned by his father, and grew up in Yonkers, New York. His mother did not care for them, and the young Simmons was regular beaten by her and her boyfriends. He spent time in group homes and his closest companions were sometimes stray dogs. His affection for dogs was so strong, in fact, that he had the name Boomer tattooed on his back after that dog was struck and killed by a car. Simmons often uses canine images in his lyrics, such as in his debut single "Get at Me Dog," included on his first album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot.
Columbia Records contracted with Simmons in 1992, but his single, "Born Loser," was not well promoted, and he convinced the label to release him from his contract. He then appeared on albums of established artists like LL Cool J, Mase, Mic Geronimo, The Lox, Ice Cube, and Onyx. In 1997, he signed with Def Jam Records, and the label released It's Dark and Hell Is Hot.
Simmons's lyrics were dark and raw in comparison to those of contemporary rappers like Puff Daddy, and they realistically reflected ghetto life on the tough streets. He was about to go on tour with Onyx and Def Squad to promote the album when he was arrested on charges of rape, sodomy, and unlawful imprisonment that were filed by an exotic dancer. He posted bail and rejoined the tour, and charges were dropped several months later when DNA results proved the charges false.
In 1998, Simmons collaborated with video director Hype Williams and starred in his first film, Belly, establishing himself in another career. The film was temporarily shut down in the middle of production because of the excessive violence used in portraying urban life.
Simmons released his second album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood in 1998, and it, like his first, quickly reached number one on the Billboard charts in its first week. In 1999, he joined Jay-Z, Method Man, and Redman on the Hard Knock Life tour, one of the most impressive of its kind.
In January 2000, Simmons had an automobile accident in White Plains, New York, and in the investigation police found marijuana and an unlicensed handgun in his vehicle. The following year he was sentenced to fifteen days in jail on another charge of marijuana possession and for driving without a license. In the short time he was in the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden, New York, he was charged with assaulting a guard with a cafeteria tray, an event provoked by the guards, according to Simmons.
Simmons released his third album, And Then There Was X, and continued his film career with a small role in Romeo Must Die, an urban thriller/action film costarring Jet Li and hip-hop singer Aaliyah. His performance in the role of a club owner was impressive enough to land him a costarring role with Steven Seagal in Exit Wounds, based on the 1990 novel by John Westermann. Simmons plays Latrell Walker, a wealthy and elusive figure who eventually teams up with Seagal.
T. Micallef reviewed E.A.R.L. for Wordmag.com, noting that "glimpses into X's psyche bring the reader right into his world, closer than ever to understanding the method to his madness." Among other instances, Simmons provides an account of a beating that left him nearly dead. He continued to create his rhymes despite chronic pain and a jaw wired shut for three months.
Library Journal contributor Caroline Dadas felt that the book puts too much emphasis on Simmons's violent early years and not enough on his artistic achievements, which she wrote "are given only cursory treatment when they deserve much more." E.A.R.L. was called "a painfully honest account of how one individual overcame a 'lifetime of suffering' by discovering and believing in his lyric talent," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer, while Booklist critic Mike Tribby called the biography "a must-have item because of Simmons's high-profile music-video presence."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 28, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001, pp. 58-60.
Simmons, Earl, and Smokey D. Fontaine, E.A.R.L.:Ever Always Real Life: The Autobiography of DMX, HarperEntertainment (New York, NY), 2002.
Booklist, November 15, 2002, Mike Tribby, review of E.A.R.L.: Ever Always Real Life: The Autobiography of DMX, p. 560.
Library Journal, November 15, 2002, Caroline Dadas, review of E.A.R.L., p. 75.
Publishers Weekly, October 14, 2002, review of E.A.R.L., p. 77.
Wordmag.com,http://www.wordmag.com/ (June-July, 2003), T. Micallef, review of E.A.R.L.*